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The lowdown on High Tea in Auckland

Posted by: SoDlish 08/12/2009 @ 09:40
Subject: Restaurants

I've talked a few times about how traditional things are becoming popular again with things like home baking and kiwiana designs. High Tea is one of those things that had fallen out of fashion over the past 10-20 years but is coming back as a fun afternoon that friends and family of all ages can enjoy together.

High Tea actually started as a substitute for a working man's evening meal. Back then the working class had just one meal in the day, a High Tea of lunch leftovers was served to keep hunger at bay after work.

These days however, it has changed into a dainty event served in the mid-afternoon with little cakes, savouries all served on a 3-tier cake stand. A typical High Tea also has a range of flavoured teas to choose from.

While researching for this article, I was surprised at the number of places that serve High Tea. Each place offers something slightly different and you can choose a place that suits your mood. From traditional to modern, to something a little different - there is bound to be a High Tea venue that you'll enjoy.

Best value - Orbit
Best cake stand - The Langham
Most traditional - Alberton
Most modern - Zarbo
Most relaxing - Cornwall Park

Alberton So D'lish pick: most traditional

The historic house, Alberton, doesn't have regular High Tea but instead has a series of tea parties each year. They offer either a Devonshire Tea Party (cocktail sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, and tea) or Classic Luncheon Party (sandwiches, hot savouries, dainty cakes and tea), served over four dates in late February to early March.

What I like about Alberton is that it is a true colonial New Zealand experience. The tea parties are set in the historic Alberton house, the food and drinks served on matching donated antique fine bone china tea sets. You can wander around the house before or after your tea party to get that real old New Zealand feel.

Tea Parties at Alberton: 25 February, 28 February, 3 March, 7 March 2010
Devonshire Tea Party (morning or afternoon): $20 pp
Classic Luncheon Party: $30 pp

100 Mt Albert Rd, Mt Albert
Phone 846 7367
Bookings are essential.

Cornwall Park Restaurant So D'lish pick: most relaxing

Cornwall Park Restaurant has been serving High Tea for almost 100 years and offers a traditional spread of little sandwiches, cakes and scones. Set in Cornwall Park, it is a beautiful, relaxing setting where you can enjoy the trees and watching the people out enjoying the park. Cornwall Park Restaurant's High Tea is available at morning or afternoon tea times.

High Tea: $19.50 pp
Available every day at morning or afternoon tea time
Cornwall Park, Greenlane
Phone 630 2888

The Langham So D'lish pick: best cake stand

The Langham (London) has the privilege of being the first grand hotel to serve Afternoon Tea and The Langham in Auckland replicates this tradition for us kiwis. The Langham serves an Afternoon Tea not a High Tea as it does not include hot savouries, but it isn't really missed. Scones with jam and cream, little sandwiches and a good selection of sweets fill the 3-tier cake stand. The Langham is famous for its chocolate-coated, tuxedo-decorated strawberries - and they are delicious!

Signature Afternoon Tea: $30
Signature Afternoon Tea with Laurent-Perrier Champagne: $56
Available every day 12.00 - 4.30pm

83 Symonds Street, CBD
Phone 379 5132

Orbit So D'lish pick: best value

As of 28 November 2009, SKYCITY is offering High Tea up high, in the revolving Orbit restaurant. I have named Orbit's High Tea as the best value because for $30 you get not only the High Tea, but the ride up the Sky Tower where you can go to the observation deck afterwards if you like, and complimentary car parking. Orbit serves a contemporary kiwana High Tea menu with scones, hot savouries, sandwiches and cakes. A good range of Dilmah's luxury teas are on offer - I can recommend the vanilla rose tea, yum!

High Tea: $30 pp
Available Saturdays and Sundays from 2.30pm to 4.30pm, last booking at 3.30pm
Bookings are essential

Cnr Victoria and Federal Sts, CBD
Phone 363 6000

Down by Britomart is Smith, a champagne and cocktail bar. In their dark but elegant surroundings, you can partake in their High Tea and you can even have a glass of bubbly. This would be a good location for a High Tea before a Hen's Party.

High Tea: $24 pp
High Tea with a glass of Daniel le Brun non vintage: $33 pp
Bookings are essential (24 hr notice is required)

Cnr Commerce and Galway Sts, CBD
Phone 309 5529

Waitakere EstateIf you're out west, this would be the logical choice for your High Tea. Nestled in the Waitakeres, this is one of the most remote venue on this list.

High Tea: $28 pp
Saturdays and Sundays from 12.00 - 4.00pm

573 Scenic Drive, Waiatarua
Phone 814 9622

So D'lish pick: most modern

Zarbo is a modern cafe, deli and food store in Newmarket and seems like an unlikely place to have High Tea. It would be an handy place to end a morning's shopping and have some dainty cakes and sandwiches. Zarbo's High Tea food is slightly different than the others, with more modern cakes like baklava and chocolate eclair along with the more traditional finger sandwiches. Flower-patterned fine-bone china is used for the tea and the table is set before you arrive, ready for you to enjoy.

High Tea: $20 pp for six items of food; $26.50 pp for nine items of food
Bookings are essential

24 Morrow St, Newmarket
Phone 520 2721

I would love to be able to say that I have tried all of these High Teas, but unfortunately I haven't (yet).

If you have had High Tea before, let us know what you thought of it and if I have left any places out, please let me know!


by  Suze_In_The_City  09/12/2009 @ 08:32
I treated my bestie to a champers high tea at The Langham for her birthday and it was outstanding. Very decadent, left completely stuffed but felt very swish! Highly recommend!
by  SoDlish  15/01/2010 @ 15:31
@Suze_In_The_City oh lucky you! I love the huge chairs that they have there - it makes you want to stay forever!
by  chrissieh  19/01/2010 @ 12:12
We had the in-laws here (from Guernsey) over the Christmas/New Year break and treated them to The Langham for their high tea based on what we'd read on your blog.
Delectable food and nice surroundings - they were (as we were) most impressed - cheers for the heads-up!
by  SoDlish  20/01/2010 @ 08:46
Hey @chrissieh - great to hear that you enjoyed The Langham afternoon tea!

If you try any others, let us know what you think :)
by  Anonymous  13/03/2010 @ 20:57
I've also heard that Takapuna Beach Cafe has a pretty decent high tea. Nice surroundings as well.
by  chalkie  17/07/2010 @ 17:05
So I finally tried The Langham's high tea - it was well worth it! Beautifully presented and soooo tasty! And the place is gorgeous....
Great afternoon hanging with the ladies - there were also some boys but its a great afternoon - but you will need to come home & have a wee Nana nap after all these goodies!
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